Fitness Friday’s!

Fitness Friday week 5 – Get up, stand up!

It’s been 4 weeks! You knew it was coming, another transformation photo! Even if you don’t think there’s a difference, I still encourage you to snap the pic. Sometimes it’s hard for us to see a change but over time it’s apparent. Pregnancy is the perfect example. I never wanted to take the growing belly selfies, but with a gentle push from friends I did and I’m so thankful! Looking back at those weekly shots in the post The Most Selfies I’ve Ever Taken, I now see the progressive changes that I wasn’t recognizing on my own.

If the reason you don’t want to take another photo is that you haven’t been putting forth much effort, then great, let this be a fire under you hiney to get back to it!

This week we’re going to talk about posture.

When your ankles, hips, shoulders, and head are lined up comfortably one above the other, your posture is correct. Your knees should not be locked, but slightly bent and your feet should be shoulder width apart.

I found this clever image that helps identify where you might be falling, or standing rather.

Why is posture so important? If you ask any chiropractor or physical therapist, they’d say “good posture means good health”. It allows your joints to work properly without unnecessary pressure where it doesn’t belong. It maintains muscular strength in the areas that decrease pressure on nerves. The list goes on including simply looking better… healthy and alive!

I’ve been amazed at the difference I’ve felt when focusing on my stance. I did it this past week and I’m actually sore from it! A good ache of course, soreness from contracting muscles to keep my spine straight, especially between my shoulder blades. After being pregnant and now a new mom, I found myself slouching as if I was still carrying pounds of baby in front of me.

It’s harder than it sounds to keep conscious of your posture. Most of you have probably corrected your posture while reading this and a good majority of you will forget about it before the end of this post.

This week I challenge you to be fully aware of your body, head to toe. When you’re cooking, working at a desk, holding your baby, standing in line at the store and even sleeping!

So how we’d do with last weeks challenge? No processed sugar was to be consumed and hopefully forgotten about… ha… ha… ha. I give myself a B+ considering effort, environment and temptations declined. The Sunday after I posted the challenge, we went to a “Candyland” birthday party. What’s funny, is nothing there was my favorite kind of sugar. It wasn’t like there was a Rice Krispie treat cake or chocolate covered nuts, however I still found myself being tempted by the flavors that were offered. I admit I nibbled here and there and regretted every bite that wasn’t worth it, which was all of them! Lesson learned.

Moving on.

This week is all about the food prep. No matter what diet you’re on or nutritional plan you follow, being prepared is always helpful. The number one thing I hear when this topic is brought up is time. It’s time consuming to get out the tubberware, chopping block and utensils to dice up your fruit and veggies. And who has spare minutes to cook up your protein and separate it all for the week? You do.

When you want something bad enough, you make it happen!

I personally enjoy it, I guess you could call it my kitchen therapy. I pour a glass of wine, pull my hair back and turn on my favorite music (or if I really want to nerd out, I’ll turn on a health documentary or cooking show). Then I lay out all of my ingredients and all of the storage containers and prep away! I intended on doing this and snapping all the pics from my own kitchen, but then I woke up and it was today, Friday. For the sake of all you that love visuals, me included, here are some beautiful examples I found.

If you’re not up for organizing full meals, start with just preparing a few containers of cleaned cut fruit and veggies. Something you can reach for in a hurry or in a “must snack now!” moment. If you open my fridge you’ll usually find celery sticks, sliced cucumber, other veggies and cleaned fruit ready to be eaten. I don’t know how many times I’ve gone into the fridge with major mind hungry (meaning in my head and not in my gut) ready to devour the first thing I saw. Due to convenience, I’d just grab a veggie bag with maybe some hummus, mashed avocado or bean dip.

What if you don’t eat all of your prepped veggies before they start to turn bad? Throw them in a skillet and you’ve got dinner with rice, roll them up in butterleaf and now you have lettuce wraps, toss them in a little oil and roast them at 400 until they’re crispy.. oh so good! My recent favorite trick is to throw them in a blender after being cooked (in anyway) with some seasoning and nut milk. Heat and eat like soup or dip with crackers. Yum!

This weeks homework:

1. Every moment you consciously think of your posture, fix it! Did you already forget?

2. Make time for one session of treating yourself to stocking the fridge with prepared fresh food. You’re worth it!

3. Take the next transition photo. Deep breath, you can do it!

4. Remember that fun little workout we recorded on week one? Do it again and see if there’s any improvement in your numbers.

Set a timer for 1 minute and count how many pushups you can do. Then again for squats and burpees. Even if you do 4 and the rest for 30 seconds and do 4 more, just keep attempting for the entire 2 minutes. Write it down and store away with that glorious photo you just took.

Wrapping up our lifestyle changes so far:

1. Use the stairs every chance you get!

2. Stick to the single serving amount or less.

3. Play with pop-cycle sticks and actually use them!

4. Consume products that are closest to their original state!

5. Avoid artificial sweeteners found in most sugar free products.

6. Walk as much as you can at every opportunity!

7. Clean out your system of sugar, stick with fruit!

8. Pick 3 workouts a week and give it all you got!

9. Food Prep! Make it easier to make better choices.

10. Keep you posture in mind. Good posture, good health!

Categories: Edibles!, Fitness, Fitness Friday’s!, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Friday Fitness week 4 – Carmel fluffa mocha Frapajazz

We’re heading into our 4th week! By now you should be feeling a difference, even if it’s in your head, a shift is always a boost of encouragement… and if you’re just now joining us, welcome!

I’ve been successful at the walking and stair climbs! Our little girl has been growing and becoming more aware of when moms not around so last week I thought, meh, why not take her with me? So at 5am I strapped her in and up we went! Below is the view from the top, that’s something to work for! The selfies are us before and after the climb, clearly she really wore herself out being my workout partner!

This week I challenge you to 3 separate workouts, none of these require a gym, tons of time or much of anything besides a little effort and some motivation. Click here to see your options on the workout page of Self.com. There’s an uncountable amount of choices that range in difficulty and the time needed to complete them. So pick 3 (and actually do them) within the next 6 days! I brought my phone to our little local gym and followed one of the workouts (that I could actually achieve with my kangaroo holding on). Although it’s adorable, I didn’t push myself to the max… next time I’ll leave her with daddy.

Last week I brought up the not-so-secret health risks of Aspartame with the promise to do more research on other competitive artificial sweeteners. After scanning dozens of websites ranging from claimed scientific facts to general public opinions, I fell upon a blogger that said it best. Wellnessmomma has hundreds of health related articles but this one was spot on.

One of her bullet points really struck home with me because I know I’m guilty of falling into the “trick”. She stated, “Studies found that ingesting artificial sweeteners can interfere with the signal loop and can cause over eating. One study found that (in rats) eating foods or drinks that are sweet but contain no calories tricks the brain into thinking that they should keep eating”. Even if you’re consciously aware of this, it doesn’t stop the chemical reaction in your brain. Over time, your natural ability to taste real sugar and know when enough is enough slowly diminishes. Scary but true.

I once did 30 days with no sugar and minimal salt. Limiting myself to only vegetables, beans, grains and nuts with small portions of fruit. By the end of that month, celery was salty to me and a mango was barely edible due to sweetness. I finally understood the people I’ve always been jealous of… those who could have one bite of chocolate and call it good for dessert…. you know the ones, “I don’t really have a sweet tooth” blah blah blah (eyes rolling here).

I’ve come to the conclusion that if you want something sweet, eat the real stuff in moderation. Why not enjoy the pure richness of a true treat rather the gut filling large quantity of a fake one. A scoop of authentic gelato verses a mixing bowl of sugar free ice cream or a piece of your favorite dark chocolate verses an entire sugar free candy-bar. You get it, so try it!

This week in the nutrition department, I’m going to wrap up the whole sugar/sweetener debate. Personally I’d rather take on the calories from a sweet bite of real food, than challenge my body to the chemically modified, questionable ingredients with the risk of long term illness and side effects. However if you must inch over into the world of sweetness, here’s a simple chart to help your decision.

As a whole, let’s challenge ourselves to simply avoid the sweets all together. Can we survive one week of what it was like before advertised junk even existed? My Grams told me of the days when honey on a biscuit was a rare treat, when you saved your only piece of bubble gum for a special occasion and lemonade was made with lemons, not sugar water!

Imagine what a Carmel fluffa mocha Frapajazz would taste like after drinking straight black coffee for a week!? So this week is fruit, that’s all folks. Are you up for the challenge? I am! I just lied to you. I’m not up for it. Honestly I could go for a homemade cookie and chocolate almond milk as I write this. But if I did everything I wanted to, who knows where my world would be! So, it’s on… let’s do it. Fruit will be my only sugar until we meet again.

This weeks homework:

1. Choose 3 workouts from the link here and dig in!

2. Give your taste buds and organs a break, avoid sugar for 7 days!

Wrapping up our lifestyle changes so far:

1. Use the stairs every chance you get!

2. Stick to the single serving amount or less.

3. Play with pop-cycle sticks and actually use them!

4. Consume products that are closest to their original state!

5. Avoid artificial sweeteners found in most sugar free products.

6. Walk as much as you can at every opportunity!

7. Clean out your system of sugar, stick with fruit!

8. Pick 3 workouts a week and give it all you got!

Categories: Fitness, Fitness Friday’s!, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Fitness Friday #3 – Dirty Sugar Free

This week starts with a confession. My name is Erika, and I love gum. I have chewed this tasty delight as long as I can remember. I can especially recall an increase in my gum chewing once I started on the “health kick” 10 years ago. If I thought I was hungry when it wasn’t time to eat, after each meal instead of dessert, long car rides where snacking is too easy, at the movie theater where treats are too tempting, at the gym, on a run… the list goes on. Why is this a confession and not a suggestion?

Let’s investigate.

Gum gets it addictive sweet flavor from one of two things, sugar or artificial sweetener. So if you choose the “real” sugar brand like Chiclets or Double Bubble, not only are you asking for cavities (my mom used to work in the dental field, can you tell?) but calories! The average piece of bubble gum has 20 calories, 5 carbs and all 5 of those carbs comes from 5 grams of sugar. Not a horrible choice if you’re used to inhaling a few cookies after lunch, however if you generally stay away from dessert and choose to have a few (or dozen) pieces of gum a day, you’re looking at consuming an extra meal without even swallowing a piece of food! Yikes!

If you choose the ever so popular “sugar free gum” which is 99% of the options you see at gas stations, you’re looking at ingesting a pretty powerful ingredient known to have side effects that most Americans complain about. I properly introduce you to Phenylalanine, the chemical making up 50% of Aspartame which we’ve all heard about.

Check this out…

If you google top side effects from Aspartame and then search for the most common symptoms Americans report, they’re almost identical!

-Headaches/Migraines

-Fatigue

-Inflammation

-Abdominal discomfort

-Insomnia

-Depression

-Anxiety

-Weight gain

Did you see the last one? Weight gain! I suppose that’s one reason I chose this for our topic besides the general (frightening) health risks included. How can a Diet Coke or piece of gum prevent wight loss? Of course, it takes more than a drink to pack on the pounds, but consistent intake of this chemical seems to be proven to mess with more than just our taste buds.

My challenge for is this week is to avoid anything with Aspartame, Phenylalanine, Equal or NutraSweet… None. Zilch. Nada! This will be hard for me since I thoroughly enjoy my gum, but I’m curious to see if I can feel a difference in a quick 7 days.

Some of you little researchers out there (myself included) might be asking, what about Splenda, Stevia, Xylitol and all the others? Challenge accepted! Next week I’ll have further info and my personal opinion. This would be another hard one for me since I consume flavored protein shakes daily and we know powdered vegetables don’t taste like chocolate without some additional sweet lovin’.

Physical challenge! We’ve hit the stairs and picked up sticks, this week we’re bringing it back to the basics, walking! When you park at the store, don’t do laps looking for the closest spot, park far away and embrace the extra calorie burnage! Shoots, if you’re really feeling it, pick up the pace and speed walk! See if you can get your heart rate up before reaching the entrance. Have a friend that lives nearby? Walk to meet in the middle and enjoy a conversation that doesn’t include a “like” button or emojis. If you don’t live close enough, meet at a coffee shop then stroll from there, no excuses.

This weeks homework:

1. Take an update photo. Are you excited about this or dreading it!?

2. Keep reading the labels before opening the box!

3. Walk. Then walk some more and then a little more!

Wrapping up our lifestyle changes so far:

1. Use the stairs every chance you get!

2. Stick to the single serving amount or less.

3. Play with pop-cycle sticks and actually use them!

4. Consume products that are closest to their original state!

5. Avoid artificial sweeteners found in most sugar free products.

6. Walk as much as you can at every opportunity!

Categories: Edibles!, Fitness Friday’s!, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Friday fitness – week 2! Pickin’ up sticks

How’d the stairs treat ya… better yet, how did you treat the stairs? Hopefully it got your heart rate up and your legs a little wobbly. More than anything, I would love to know that it kick started the fitness wheel for you and now it’s rolling!

This week I’m introducing one of my favorite tricks to sneak in a few extra moments that burns calories and maintains strength. Like any other activity, it only works if you do it!

I used pop-cycle sticks, you can find these in the art section of any store that has an art section. Note: I don’t suggest going to the freezer aisle and buying a jumbo pack of fudge-cycles to eat and save the sticks, it made me sick.

Feel free to change the number amount of each movement to better suit your fitness level.

There’s 2 ways I find this little dandy works best for me.

1. On a day off around the house or while you’re getting ready for work, set a timer for every 30 (or 15 or 45) minutes. Every time it sounds, grab a stick or 3 and have at it! This dilutes the overwhelming task and doesn’t consume your entire morning or evening.

2. Set a timer for 30 minutes (or 15 or an hour) and plow through as many sticks as you can!

Another idea (that I rarely do but love it when I do) is to partner up! Find a friend and take turns pulling sticks. A bit more entertaining when you’re either wishing for an easy one or watching your partner endure a hard one!

Write this down and prop it up next to your stick jar!

-“everyone works out when they want to, determined people do it even when they don’t want to!

Last week we practiced portion control by being more aware of the nutrition facts and quantity suggested per serving. Continuing on that track, this week start by looking at the ingredients. If there are more than 6 ingredients or anything you can’t pronounce (properly) then don’t even waste your time with the serving size… just put it back and find something else.

Let’s try keeping our food intake as close to its natural state as possible. If you’re in a hurry and starving at a gas station, reach for the bag of nuts or fruit verses the yogurt covered pretzels, “baked” chips or trail mix. Sure those options sound healthier than a Butterfinger, but look at the ingredients, it can be so deceiving!

This weeks homework:

1. Create your collection of sticks with a variety of workouts and use them!

2. Read the ingredients before looking at the nutrition facts. Less is more!

Wrapping up our lifestyle changes so far:

1. Use the stairs every chance you get!

2. Stick to the single serving amount or less.

3. Play with pop-cycle sticks and actually use them!

4. Consume products that are closest to their original state!

Have you taken your original starting picture? I hope so because next week we take another one!

I’ll have to admit this past week has been a struggle for me with family in town and a thousand mile road trip to see more family! Here’s a sneak preview of the love Shanti has been surrounded with! Next post, family adventures!

Categories: Edibles!, Fitness, Fitness Friday’s!, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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